DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 52-year-old lady with bad varicose veins in both my legs. How did I get them? My legs get tired easily, and they hurt if I have to stand for any time. A friend told me about an injection in the veins that gets rid of them. Can you tell me what that is? My husband has them too, and he’s also interested in getting rid of them. I didn’t know men got them. – L.T.
ANSWER: Varicose veins are dilated, gnarly leg veins that aren’t limited to women. Men get them too, but women with varicose veins outnumber men by a factor of 2-to-1.
You got them like most people get them. There’s a strong family influence in coming down with varicosities. Pregnancy, jobs where people must be on their feet for long times and obesity are other factors that generate such veins. I just learned that taller people have them more frequently than shorter folks.
The basic problem is faulty vein valves. Veins are equipped with valves that close shut as blood passes by to keep it from falling back down. If leg-vein valves aren’t working, blood does fall back down, and it stagnates in the legs and dilates the veins, causing them to balloon.
You can do some things on your own to improve the situation. Take a couple of breaks during the day when you can lie down with your legs raised above heart level. Compression stockings keep blood flowing upward in leg veins. The best are ones that are specially fitted for your legs and that have more compression at ankle level than at thigh level.
Removal techniques are many. You ask about sclerotherapy. In that procedure, a solution that irritates the veins’ inner lining is injected into them. The lining sticks to itself, and the vein collapses. It’s not used for all veins. It doesn’t work well for very large ones. Catheter ablation is another newer technique where a thin, flexible tube – a catheter – is threaded into the veins. The catheter has a probe that emits radio waves that heat the lining and cause the vein to shrivel. The menu for varicose-vein treatment is large; this is only a small sample of what can be done.
The booklet on varicose veins explains this condition in detail. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 108W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Please explain the meaning of “homonymous hemianopsia.” I am a senior and a diabetic. Does it have anything to do with either? – J.B.
ANSWER: Hemianopsia is a loss of half the visual field. For example, a person can see from the center to the right but not from the center to the left. Homonymous (hoe-MON-uh-mus) indicates that both eyes have the same defect.
Head trauma, brain tumors, strokes and a few other conditions cause such a vision loss. Diabetes and aging are not common causes.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475.
©2008 North America Synd.